Nothing could have prepared anyone for The Scorpions ‘Pure Instinct’, 1996 was a faceless year for music in general and instead of returning to their 70’s and 80’s best, the band apparently decided an album full of ballads was required, many may cite 1999’s ‘Eye II Eye’ as their nadir, but nothing comes close to this shocking display.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: The Scorpions
ALBUM: Pure Instinct
SERIAL: 0630 14524-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Germany
LINEUP: Klaus Meine – vocals * Rudolf Schenker – guitar * Matthias Jabs – guitar * Ralph Rieckermann – bass * Curt Cress – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Wild Child * 02 But The Best For You * 03 Does Anyone Know * 04 Stone In My Shoe * 05 Soul Behind The Face * 06 Oh Girl (I Wanna Be With You) * 07 When You Cam Into My Life * 08 Where The River Flows * 09 Time Will Call Your Name * 10 You And I * 11 Are You The One?
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The Scorpions started out the 90’s the same way they had in the 80’s, firmly established as one of the biggest hard rock acts ploughing their trade. 1990’s ‘Crazy World’ was one of their highest selling albums, largely in part to the success of single ‘Winds Of Change’. That songs somewhat hackneyed ‘poignant’ ballad stance firmly suited the post-communist era of Europe during that time and induced lighter-waving antics all over the world.
But like every veteran band the decade soon became a graveyard of popularity and sales for the band, especially in the U.S. 1993’s ‘Face The Heat’ saw longtime bassist Francis Bucholz out of the fold and the album was a dull affair full of forgettable hard rock anthems as the band tried to toughen up their sound to suit the times. But nothing could have prepared anyone for ‘Pure Instinct’ a few years later. 1996 was a faceless year for music in general and instead of returning to their 70’s and 80’s best, The Scorpions apparently decided an album full of ballads was required.
Many may cite 1999’s ‘Eye II Eye’ as their nadir, but nothing comes close to this shocking display by a band who seemingly forgot they were once a heavy metal band. This isn’t hard rock, its pop of the worst kind, an album so wimpy that Def Leppard‘s ‘X’ seems like a masterpiece by comparison. Further diluting the band was the departure of drummer Herman Rarebell, who was replaced by journeyman Curt Cress.
I remember buying this in 1996 and being truly appalled at what I heard. It seems even worse almost 20 years later, the bludgeoning amount of ballads almost too much to comprehend. There are two hard rock tracks out of 11 total songs and those two are minimally classed as such themselves.
‘Wild Child’ is musically stuck somewhere in the late 80’s and the chorus is typical Scorpions, but to describe this as heavy would be a lie. It’s all very pleasant and compared to a song like ‘Dynamite’ its sugary pop fluff. The tirade of sickening love ballads begins with ‘But The Best For You’ which bores in every regard, but still manages to blow away the dull acoustic nonsense that is ‘Does Anybody Know’ where the band starts to think they’re The Beatles.
The second ‘rock’ track is ‘Stone In My Shoe’ which again is all too pleasant, with its happy riffs and overall lack of ‘sting’ to utilize a cheap pun. I remember reading a review of this by Paul Suter where he opined this was as heavy as Billy Joel. That’s about as accurate as it gets really.
From here on this becomes one of the most embarrassing albums of the decade, with every song trite and treading water with their themes of love and hope, with nothing even remotely associated with The Scorpions most of us once knew. Basically if a whole album of ‘Still Loving You’ or ‘When the Smoke Is Going Down’ suits you then this is essential listening. Somehow I assume there aren’t too many people out there of that persuasion.
Electric guitars are at a minimum, replaced by acoustics instead, with Meine babbling about flowing rivers and love under the moonlight instead of hurricanes and pieces of meat. There are too many prime offenders to mention, but just hearing a few bars of the orchestral ‘Are You The One’ makes me nauseous. It sums up how bland this album is, easily the worst album of The Scorpions career.
What persuaded the band to record an album like this is a mystery. In 1996 the world was crying out for an album like ‘Blackout’ or even ‘Savage Amusement’. Instead they went the opposite direction and wimped out to a degree that has never been seen before or since. Come on, nine ballads?
Maybe they were confused as to what was expected of them, seeing as their commercial fortunes had fizzled in the U.S. This definitely didn’t help their cause. The only noteworthy aspect was the album cover, which in typical Scorpions fashion featured nudity, but with none of the controversial elements of the past. For anyone who hasn’t heard this, I’d suggest you do just to hear a glimpse of a once great bands downfall and another reason as to why the 90’s became the death knell for hard rock.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)